CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV
CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: It’s a deliciously overstuffed stew of emotions… tuck in!
House of Maxwell
Whatever you are into, there’s a podcast for that. The home-made amateur internet radio shows used to be mostly about true crime and classic rock, but no longer.
If you’re desperate to know about life inside San Quentin prison, California, or urban architecture, or conserving rare plants, someone somewhere has recorded a stack of downloads on the subject.
So it’s hardly surprising that divorce lawyer Ruth (Deborah Findlay) is making a podcast about break-ups in The Split (BBC1).
After she has put asunder her clients, she invites them on air to vent their resentment at their exes. ‘How do you know when a marriage is over?’ she purred over the opening credits, like Vanessa Redgrave delivering a homily at the start of Call The Midwife.
‘If marriage is the conquest and divorce the inquest, can there ever be the Good Divorce?’
Nicola Walker and Steven Mangan star in The Split, now in its third series, asks the question, can there ever be a Good Divorce?
Ruth’s oldest daughter Hannah (Nicola Walker) is striving for a Good Divorce from weaselly husband Nathan (Steven Mangan), made all the trickier because Hannah is the one who had a fling and confessed it.
Nathan pretends to be reasonable and civilised. He might even believe it himself. But he is already embroiled in another serious relationship — one he doesn’t mention to Hannah until he brings his new girlfriend along to dinner with a group of their friends.
Now in its third series, The Split was a confusing tangle of affairs and toxic fallout from the beginning. Writer Abi Morgan does a spirited job of sketching all the criss-crossing subplots, but new viewers don’t have much chance of following every thread without the benefit of an explanatory podcast.
How unmarried mum Nina (Annabel Scholey) ended up having an affair with her boss’s gay lover Tyler (Damien Molony) I cannot fathom. It’ll take an online mini-series to resolve that one.
They fell into bed after bumping into each other at Alcoholics Anonymous but really, that’s not an acceptable explanation.
If you’re happy to watch without understanding half of what’s going on, The Split is a deliciously over-stuffed stew of emotions.
Nicola Walker is at her stuttering best, all conflicted feelings and mood swings, and the rest of the cast seem to become more vivid and intense whenever she is on screen.
Another podcast opened the three-part documentary House Of Maxwell (BBC2), with broadcaster Scott Sharp presenting a self-made show called True Crime Loser.
Scott and his followers were obsessed with Ghislaine Maxwell. Armed with a smartphone on a stick, he stood outside Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center in New York, where she was held before trial.
‘She probably feels very alone,’ Scott told us wisely . . . ‘it just feels like the end of the line.’
Scott’s vindication for such vapid waffle is that he writes, films and presents the entire show himself. Documentary maker Daniel Vernon has less excuse for shallowness.
Thanks to Robert Maxwell’s insistence on having a film crew record his every move, this series has hundreds of hours of unseen footage depicting the egomaniac at his crooked, bullying worst.
But the narrative is hopelessly muddled, unable to decide whether to focus on Cap’n Bob’s criminal rise, his apparent suicide or his daughter’s later career as a pimp and child abuser.
For all the new material —including tapes of panicky phone conversations between Maxwell underlings as his frauds unravelled — the show mostly tramped over well-known ground. There must be much more to find out.
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